Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #20)

Have you ever seriously thought about killing yourself, tried to kill yourself, or have you purposely cut, burned or otherwise hurt yourself?

Suicide among young people continues to be a serious problem. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among U.S. youth and accounts for 7% of all deaths among youth ages 10-14 and 12% of all deaths among youth ages 15-19.

Did you know?

  • –  Females are disproportionately affected, and attempt to commit suicide more often than males, however; males complete suicide attempts at a rate more than five times that of females.
  • –  Four out of five teens that attempt suicide give clear warnings to parents, friends, and other trusted individuals.
  • –  American Indians/Alaskan Natives are also disproportionately affected by suicide. This group has the highest suicide rates for adolescents (33.3/100,000), followed by Non-Hispanic Caucasian youth (14.6/100,000), Non-Hispanic African American (10.0/100,000), Hispanics (9.7/100,000), and Asian Pacific Islanders (8.9/100,000).

Self-injury appears to have become more popular lately, especially in adolescents. Adolescents may self-mutilate to take risks, rebel, reject their parents’ values, state their individuality, or to be accepted. Others do so out of desperation or anger, to seek attention, or to show their desperation or suicidal thoughts. In the U.S., it is estimated that one in every 200 girls between the ages 13-19 cut themselves regularly. Those who cut comprise about 70% of teen girls who self-injure.

Try these messages with youth:

“Not everyone has a strong relationship with family members or another adult.  This does not mean you are alone and it does not mean you should keep your problems and worries to yourself.  Talking to a trusted adult about your problems can be very helpful.  They may have good advice or resources to help you work through your problems.”

“Don’t be afraid!  Everyone needs a trusted adult to talk to.  Think about reaching out to a neighbor, teacher, coach, health professional or school counselor.  If you can’t talk face to face, there is always the phone and email to stay in contact.  There are adults out there who care about you and want to help however they can.”

Resources for youth:

–  Teen Central is an anonymous help-line web site for teens.  It has been developed by experts in teen counseling and psychology.

–  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched the Mental Health Campaign for Mental Health Recovery to encourage, educate, and inspire people between 18 and 25 to support their friends who are experiencing mental health problems.  The What a Difference a Friend Makes is a site designed for those with mental illness and their friends.

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